[15 November/Dairy Reporter]

A world first study conducted by Plant and Food Research in the Manawatu/ Whanganui regions has analysed dietary intakes and breastmilk nutrient composition to aid the development of supplements or programmes to support the health of breastfeeding mothers.  The programme, funded by Danone Nutricia, involved 78 women who recorded their food and provided a number of breastmilk samples, which were analysed for protein, fat, fatty acids, carbohydrates and a range of minerals.  The sample group involved women of varying ages from a range of ethnic backgrounds.  The most significant conclusion was that the concentrations of certain nutrients varied considerably among the ethnic groups, perhaps due to differences in culturally influenced dietary and lifestyle patterns.  Despite these differences all the mothers had similar amounts of the main macronutrients in their breastmilk (particularly protein, fat and carbohydrates).  Lead researcher, Dr Christine Butts, said that the consistency of breastmilk containing the essential micronutrients for the baby regardless of diet is a great example of how simply amazing the human body is.